Sam also sent condolences to Franklin G. Whitmore on his “second disaster,” the loss of a loved-one.
“There is no office for words to perform, except to rejoice for the dead & mourn for the living. And so I mourn with you & Mrs. Whitmore, & remember Susy, & say no word more further, than to offer the love & sympathy of this family. Who know what you feel, we being Past Masters in grief” [MTP].
December 20 Tuesday
December 21 Wednesday
December 22 Thursday
December 23 Friday – H.H. Rogers wrote to Sam, letter not extant but referred to in Jan. 3, 1899 to Rogers.
December 24 Saturday – Sam related this family’s evening to William Dean Howells in his Dec. 30:
At the house of an English friend, on Christmas Eve, we saw the Mouse-Trap played, & well played. I thought the house would kill itself with laughter. By George they played with life! & it was most devastatingly funny. And it was well they did, for they put us Clemenses in the front seat, & if they had played it poorly I would have assaulted them. The head young man & girl were Americans, the other parts were taken by English, Irish & Scotch girls. Then there was a nigger-minstrel show, of the old sort, & I enjoyed that, too, for the nigger-show was always a passion of mine. This one was created & managed by a Quaker doctor from Philada (23 years old), & he was the middle man. There were 9 others—5 Americans from 5 states, & a Scotchman, 2 Englishmen & an Irishman—all postgraduate-medical young fellows, of course—or, it could be music; but it would be bound to be one or the other [MTHL 2: 684]. Note: The Mouse-Trap was a farce by Howells originally published in Dec. 1866 Harper’s, and released as a book in England, 1897.
Nathaniel Zook wrote a rather disjointed and bizarre letter to Sam, about his being in prison and proposing to write a book. He may have been unbalanced [MTP].
December 25 Sunday – Christmas – The New York Times, ran “Hearst’s Borrowed Shirt,” a story about Sam Clemens loaning George Hearst a “biled shirt” back in Virginia City days. Hearst, unable to find a shirt to wear to a wedding, borrowed one of Sam’s, something greatly frowned on in those days, but was exposed after a fight. Just why the Times ran this story on Christmas is anyone’s guess. Roughing It, p. 416 (Chapter LVII): “For those people hated aristocrats. They had a particular and malignant animosity toward what they called a ‘biled shirt.’” There is one problem with this story—George Hearst made his fortune in Virginia City and left in June, 1860, before Sam arrived [Mack 35]. Possibly the shirt-borrower was another man, or the shirt-lender was not Samuel Clemens. Or, maybe, like many anecdotes, it’s simply a tall tale. Unfortunately there are far too many such tales to include in these volumes. ,
December 25 Sunday ca. – Sam inscribed his photograph after the portrait of Mark Twain by Ignace Spiridon to Frau von Dutschka: “To Frau von Dutschka with kindest Christmas greetings of Mark Twain”
[MTP: TS: James Cummins Bookseller catalogs, 1989, No. 25, Item 248].
December 26 Monday – Louisa Wohl wrote to Sam; the letter not extant but referred to in Sam’s Dec.
28 to Gilder; see entry [MTP].
December 27 Tuesday – At the Hotel Krantz in Vienna, Austria, Sam wrote and cabled H.H. Rogers.
Yours of the 16th [not extant] is a very enchanting Christmas letter & introduces a striking & in all ways commendable novelty. Christmas has always been an expense before; this is the first time it has gone the other way. That $17,000 has been a very industrious & fertile old hen, & I am very glad you have set her
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.